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The Big Guy

Midsummer, in a usual year, music, festivals and folks felt comfortable hanging in close quarters. It was comfortably intimate. With the current reality, in hindsight, maybe too intimate. But, one specific time, manning a booth in Fort Collins I’m glad we could get close. If we couldn’t this whole story couldn’t have happened.


First of all I’m not a big fellow. I only tower above very short people. But I’m in decent shape for an old guy. I’m sturdy, but … I guess what I’m sayin’ is I can/am physically intimidated by ‘some’ folks. I mean, I’m not stupid. I don’t run as fast as I used to. But then again … sometimes.


I’m standing on the tarmac in City Park giving away bike bells and little froggy lights for the city’s ‘mobility’ department. It’s fun to give stuff away. A lull in the traffic midday found me a bit bored. I get ‘into’ this. I like to go full tilt, then go home. But as this big fellow, this big tattooed fellow - (did I mention he was Big and had tattoos way up his neck?) sauntered up kinda quickly, my boredom evaporated.

“Yo bro.”

I looked up wondering if this would be one of ‘those’ memories. “Hey, what’s up?”

“Can you teach people to ride a bike?”

“I try.”

“Can you teach me?”

I reacted badly. “Why?” I should’ve said yes.

“Yo, I wanna ride with my daughter. You know.” Behind him she was riding in circles having fun.

I nodded. I knew. I understood.


For the next two hours we struggled. We cussed a bit, laughed a bit, and sweated a lot, but  we consisted. In consistent small steps we progressed.. 


Eventually, as he was about to leave he turned back to me smiling and hugged me, darn near lifting me. I don’t think he did that often. “Thank you Bro” he whispered, as he sat me down. (Did I mention he was big?) We both had that, seldom seen, tear. His little daughter rode up, and they rode away. “Wow Dad!” My smile was deep. My eyes wet.


 I know I got more than I gave, again. That’s why I, we, do what we do.

by Jim Williams

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